by Dina Kartit

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(Reuters) – French building materials giant Saint-Gobain posted record annual sales on Thursday, beating analysts’ expectations, thanks to strong growth in all its regions and despite higher inflation and worries on economic growth.

Revenue amounted to 51.197 billion euros, up 15.9% compared to 2021. A Refinitiv consensus drawn from 21 analysts expected 50.76 billion euros for the period.

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“It’s the first time we’ve crossed the 50 billion mark,” chief executive Benoit Bazin said in a phone call with reporters.

Operating profit increased by 18.4% to reach a new record of 5.34 billion euros, the group said, while operating margin also reached a new record at 10.4% in 2022 against 10, 2% in 2021.

The group attributed this strong performance to strong momentum across all segments globally, despite an “unstable geopolitical, energy and macroeconomic environment in 2022.”

For 2023, the group said it expects the operating margin to remain in a range between 9% and 11%.

He predicts a moderate slowdown with a decline in new construction in some areas, but expects broader resilience for renovations in 2023.

Saint-Gobain said the sale of its UK distribution business to Stark Group for around 740 million pounds (839.17 million euros) would be finalized by the end of March 2023.

The French group has proposed a dividend of 2.0 euros per share, up 23% from last year, adding that it will allocate at least 400 million euros for share buybacks in 2023 in order to further reduce the number of its outstanding shares.

(Report Dina Kartit, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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